Shaman's Sleight of Hand

Shaman's Sleight of Hand


A friend of mine was invited to tell her magical stories at the opening of a small Chicago Park. The park, in an inner city neighborhood, is filled with sculpture, and was created by a wonderfully eccentric woman in order to save a single gingko tree which she remembered seeing since she was a child. They invited storytellers and jugglers and dancers as a way to celebrate the opening of the park.

My friend went to the sculpture of a dolphin which she had chosen to support her in her storytelling and shouted out, "Stories here. Stories here." No one stopped to listen. She stood all alone. Crowds of people walked by ignoring her.

She ran to her car to get her tarot cards. Came back. Shouted, "Hear the greatest story ever told. YOUR life, YOUR fortune in the TAROT."

A crowd gathered. Soon she was surrounded by listeners, to whom she told the same magic stories she had always planned to tell.

This is the shaman's sleight of hand, the Sufis' patchwork cloak, what Zen Buddhists call "skillful means."

That all being true, what are we to make of it?

Stephen Williamson